Chinese votes no longer fixed deposit for DAP

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  • Monday, 14 Feb 2022

DAP has been calling for a fresh general election since the collapse of the Pakatan Harapan government in February 2020 due to the Sheraton Move, which subsequently saw a new coalition - Perikatan Nasional.

Even at the height of the Covid-19 pandemic in 2020 and last year, the same push was made in April when DAP said a new government was needed to be voted in.

But it all ended after the Sabah, Sarawak and Melaka state elections.

In fact, some said even earlier - after the defeat of Parti Pribumi Bersatu Malaysia (Bersatu) when it was still part of Pakatan in the Tanjung Piai by-election in 2019.

Pakatan only managed to garner 10,380 against MCA's Datuk Seri Dr Wee Jeck Seng who secured a landslide 25,466 votes in Tanjung Piai.

A new narrative emerged. DAP, which has always been confident of the Chinese voters, took a different stand after a series of losses.

It was clear that Chinese voters should not be taken for granted by DAP, particularly in the Sarawak election, where 11 out of 26 DAP candidates lost deposits.

Sarawak DAP chief Chong Chieng Jen later apologised to voters in a press conference, and it was unprecedented of the DAP to apologise to the electorate openly.

Among the issues were the poor performance of the DAP leaders when it was in the Pakatan Federal government.

The open acknowledgment must have been difficult including grievances of the cut in grants to Tunku Abdul Rahman University College (TAR UC) in 2018.

Fast forward to 2022 - and now the DAP goes to the Johor state elections feeling testy as there're many uncertain variables.

It has to depend on the fledgling Malaysian United Democratic Alliance (MUDA) for the "wow" factor, like the other opposition parties.

The Rocket logo is no longer an automatic symbol to secure votes and it hasn’t helped that the Pakatan symbol will still be used. Even PKR wants to use its own logo.

In last year's Melaka state election, DAP saw its votes in Bemban decrease to merely 3,095 compared to 2018 when it secured 6,998 votes. Chinese voters consist of almost 22% of the total registered votes in Bemban.

A similar scenario played out in the Gadek state seat in Melaka polls last November, where DAP failed to retain the seat after MIC garnered a slim majority of 559.

The Gadek seat was previously won by DAP in 2018 and Chinese voters consist of 23.55% of registered voters.

The most apparent decrease was in Kota Sentosa, a DAP stronghold for more than 15 years which was later won by Gabungan Parti Sarawak (GPS) in the Sarawak state election last year.

The seat was held by Sarawak DAP chief Chong Chieng Jen since 2006 and he chose not to defend Kota Sentosa last year, contesting in another DAP stronghold Padungan instead.

DAP lost Kota Sentosa after it managed to only secure 4,123 votes against GPS, and it won narrowly with Chong garnering a 1,198 majority in Padungan.

Universiti Sains Malaysia political analyst Sivamurugan Pandian is predicting MCA to make political inroads in Johor, citing the outcome of the Melaka state election.

"MCA is gaining support from those who are frustrated with disunity in the Opposition as seen in Melaka. But this does not mean it will be permanent," added Sivamurugan.

Sivamurugan also Pakatan supporters are disappointed over PKR, DAP and Amanah's go use different logos in the upcoming Johor state election.

"They felt Pakatan is still struggling to keep themselves intact and united.

"This could see a flow of voters towards Barisan and MCA," Sivamuragan said.

Sivamurugan also said the multi-cornered fight will benefit Barisan because "Barisan always relies on their loyal stock of voters".

"Most of the overseas voters are also unable to return due to various factors. This will again give an advantage to Barisan," added Sivamurugan.

Azmi Hassan, a senior fellow at the Nusantara Academy for Strategic Research (NASR), said four-cornered fights should take place in most seats and there could be more independent candidates joining in the fray.

Azmi also said rising tensions between PKR, DAP and Muda should benefit Barisan in the Johor state election.

"With DAP and PKR edging out against each other, MCA and Barisan will be at huge advantage in Johor, just like what happened in Melaka."

Azmi explained that Pakatan's dismal performance in Melaka was due to DAP's decision to "protest" against PKR's decision for fielding two ex Umno assemblymen - Datuk Seri Idris Haron and Datuk Nor Azman Hasan - as candidates.

"PKR lost all the seats they contested in Melaka due to DAP supporters boycotting PKR that time," added Azmi.

Meanwhile, Johor MCA Youth chief Ling Tian Soon said the recent Melaka election showed that unity between Umno and MCA had secured more votes for Barisan in all the seats it contested.

"It is not right to say that Barisan and Umno can win without MCA’s help and Melaka is a clear example.

"There were seats in the recent Melaka polls where Umno won with a thin majority and who’s to say that without MCA’s help, they can still win?

"Johor’s identity and political situation differ from Melaka as the Chinese voter make-up is sizeable here.

"We will prove ourselves to the naysayers,” he said, adding that voters can now better compare both Barisan and Pakatan Harapan after both sides have experience in government.

Party unity will be a crucial element in the upcoming state election and Johor Umno Treasurer Datuk Md Jais Sarday assured that MCA is valued as an equal partner in Barisan.

Md Jais said Pakatan's poor outing in the Melaka and Sarawak state election showed that "the winds of change" have started.

"The Malays are warming up to Umno while the Indians are coming back to MIC. I believe that the Chinese should return to MCA as all races should be represented in forming the new state government.

"Umno will not be able to work with DAP if they win the Chinese votes, as they are not part of Barisan"

Johor Baru Tiong-Hua Association president Ho Sow Tong stressed the importance of forming a strong and multi-racial government in Johor.

"This will help in the progress of the state in terms of the economy as well as hard and soft developments.

"A stable and well-represented government will be able to ensure that our traditions and cultures are preserved and safeguarded, too," he said, adding that he believes the people are more mature as voters now compared to the 14th general election.

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